Industry Q&A: What’s Up With B2B Marketing in Argentina?

I was teaching B2B digital marketing to master’s degree students at San Andres University in Buenos Aires again this summer. The students were pretty enthusiastic about the concepts and tactics I shared. So, I decided to look into what’s going on in B2B marketing in Argentina, overall.

I was teaching B2B digital marketing to master’s degree students at San Andres University in Buenos Aires again this summer. The students were pretty enthusiastic about the concepts and tactics I shared. So, I decided to look into what’s going on in B2B marketing in Argentina, overall.

Martin J. Frias
Martin J. Frias

Thanks to an introduction from the longtime agency pro and university instructor Freddy Rosales, I had the chance to meet Martin J. Frias, who filled me in. Here’s what I learned.

Ruth Stevens: How do B2B marketers in Argentina approach new customer prospecting these days?

Martin Frias: Twenty years ago, we would buy databases from trade publications and data vendors, and use them to cold call, trying to reach senior executives. The problem in those days was getting past the gatekeepers.

Stevens: What has changed since then?

Frias: Three things. First, technology. Buyers now have anonymous access to product information. Sellers — even smaller brands — are using marketing automation like InfusionSoft, Marketo, and a local provider called Doppler emBlue to conduct event-triggered campaigns. Second, inbound marketing, meaning content posted by sellers on LinkedIn and blogs. Third, a larger role for marketing, as active members of inside sales and lead qualification teams. But I must tell you, not all firms are moving toward this kind of modern marketing. Most are still doing the same old push email and events.

Stevens: So, what’s still missing?

Frias: A shared vision between sales and marketing about the entire demand generation and sales process. The two sides need to agree on what is a lead, how to define qualification, and identify the tools needed to operate — from marketing automation, to CRM, to ERP. In short, sales and marketing need to take joint responsibility for guiding the buying process.

Stevens: I am hearing that WhatsApp is a favorite tool here. Please explain.

Frias: Yes, WhatsApp offers an enterprise network tool that integrates with marketing automation, so you can manage omnichannel messaging via WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and others. But you have to be careful. It can backfire. Many business buyers consider WhatsApp an exclusively personal medium, and they resent receiving business communications through it. Also, I think businesses may worry that their targeted communications could fall into the hands of competitors, thanks to WhatsApp’s extraordinary ease of sharing.

Stevens: Are there any prospecting data sources available now?

Frias: You can buy data, or you can buy access. For example, there’s an IT community platform here with a half a million subscribers. Marketers generally don’t trust the databases that are for sale. At my agency, we use LinkedIn Sales Navigator; whereby, we can contact 5 million Argentinean professionals, mostly those in middle management. We use LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index, company size, industry, and title for segmentation, and we attract the targets with content.

Stevens: Is there a professional association for B2B marketers in Argentina?

Frias: No. I wish there were. There is a post-grad program in B2B marketing offered at ITBA, one of our leading engineering schools. The tech industry is really the leader in B2B marketing here. Other key industries, like oil and gas, manufacturing, and construction, are more interested in brand positioning and awareness, and less about lead generation. So, they focus on their websites, value propositions, sales collateral, trade shows, and business events — like golf outings, and sponsoring sports events. They’re not using content, marketing automation, and lead management.

Stevens: Please tell me about yourself and how you became active in B2B marketing here in Argentina.

Frias: I started at Oracle Hyperion, heading a lead generation team in the financial services area. Then I worked at several other firms. Now, I have a 15-person agency called Pragmativa. We offer full B2B demand generation services, including website design, search marketing, display advertising, content, social media, and marketing automation. So, we’ll run a client’s prospecting, and manage their data. The one thing we don’t do, because I don’t believe in it, is cold-call telemarketing. Despite frequent requests from clients.

Stevens: Anything else you’d like to share?

Frias: Yes, I have a B2B marketing blog, in Spanish, and welcome followers.

 

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

Analyze Your Target’s Buying Process for Greater Marketing Efficiency

B2B selling is a complicated affair, but you can simplify your marketing strategies dramatically with buying process analysis. This means that you lay out your prospect’s buying process, stage by stage, and then develop a selling process that maps to it. Voila. Your marketing investments will become much more efficient,

B2B selling is a complicated affair, but you can simplify your marketing strategies dramatically with buying process analysis. This means that you lay out your prospect’s buying process, stage by stage, and then develop a selling process that maps to it. Voila. Your marketing investments will become much more efficient, being applied to their best use. And you’ll also be more effective, since each element is targeted to a specific goal. Let’s look at how this works.

Here’s a typical B-to-B large enterprise buying process, broken down into its logical stages.

Buying Process StagesThe stages are pretty obvious —any marketer can create such a list on the back of a cocktail napkin. But you may find that the buying process will vary by segment, so you may need more than one.

The next step is to clarify your marketing objective at each stage. Simply put, your objective is to help move the prospect along his buying journey, stage by stage, in your favor. But you can get more granular. At the stage when the prospect begins researching solutions, your objective is to be among the consideration set. At the next stage, you want to be selected for the short list. When they are soliciting proposals, you want to submit a winning bid. And so on.

Now, your marketing activities can be directed toward supporting this process. Consider which media make the most sense at each stage. When you are trying to become known to researchers, media relations and trade shows can be the most effective tools. When the prospect is reviewing proposals, you may decide that a webinar is a good method for educating them on your capabilities. Once you’ve won the business and they are beginning to use your product or service, you might invite them to a user group.

The same thinking can be applied to other areas of the marketing communications mix. What content do you need to move the prospect from one stage to the next? What data elements are required at each stage? What motivational offers will be most effective?

I am fond of this approach to B-to-B marketing, especially in the account-based marketing context, because it helps us get very focused, and reduces what you might call random acts of marketing communication.

A version of this article appeared in Biznology, the digital marketing blog.

Are You Buying Marketing Tech Too Casually?

For the past couple months, I’ve been working on our research report, “The Marketing Tech Buying Process.” And one thing really surprised me: A lot less formal prep and discussion is going into those purchases than I expected. Are marketers buying their technology too casually?

For the past couple months, I’ve been working a lot on our most recent research report, “The Marketing Tech Buying Process.” And one thing really surprised me: There is less formal prep and cross-departmental discussion going into those purchases than I expected.

Which raises the question: Are marketers buying their technology too casually?

For starters, most technology requirements are set by a single person or team. Only about a third of our respondents have multiple teams or cross-functional teams working on it.

Marketing Technology Buying Process: "Who typically defines the requirements and technology selection criteria?" Then, when we looked at the processes marketers use to prepare for the purchase and to evaluate success after implementation, we found most marketers rely on informal processes.

For example, in preparing for the purchase, only three processes were used by a majority of our respondents, and two of them were budget-focused. When it came to setting functional requirements, the most-used process is informal requirements assessment.

Prior to beginning the research and procurement process for a significant marketing technology investment, what steps do you take?And it was the same in follow-up: The most used process was informal.

Are informal processes really the best way to decide what tech you need and whether or not a purchase was successful?

As marketing technology is becoming more important, and the overall customer experience is becoming a more important marketing KPI, shouldn’t more departments have input on what you need?

After all, these are important purchases. As one respondent said, “I cannot afford to buy a lemon. My job depends on it. I cannot afford to buy it twice or lose time that I need.”

So what do you think? Is your marketing department buying technology too casually? Or is this the best way to do things? Do you worry about having too many cooks in the kitchen when you’re trying to get that marketing tech stack souffle to rise?

Let me know in the comments.

And if you want to see more,  click here to download the complete report.

 

What Is Social Selling and Where Do I Start?

Don’t let the hype about B-to-B social selling deceive you. Buyers have not reinvented the buying process. It has simply become a non-linear one. What is new are the sexy tools. However, using LinkedIn, Google+, blogging and YouTube effectively when prospecting isn’t sexy. It’s just a better process. Is social selling a revolution? No, it’s merely a chance for sales prospecting EVO-lution.

Don’t let the hype about B-to-B social selling deceive you. Buyers have not reinvented the buying process. It has simply become a non-linear one. What is new are the sexy tools. However, using LinkedIn, Google+, blogging and YouTube effectively when prospecting isn’t sexy. It’s just a better process.

Is social selling a revolution? No, it’s merely a chance for sales prospecting EVO-lution.

So let’s roll up our sleeves and discover: What is social selling and how are sellers generating more leads, faster? What is the process your sales team should be applying?

Social Selling Is a System
Let’s grip the wheel, firmly. Revolutions bring about change that make things easier or better. Has social media made your life easier lately? Are you getting more leads and closing them faster?

I rest my case!

Effective social selling is a system. Systems are not sexy.

A system is a repeatable process with a predictable outcome. Input goes in, certain things happen and out pops a result.

Social Prospecting: New but not Complex
The prospecting piece of social selling is mostly about:

  1. Getting buyers to respond and qualify faster, more often, and
  2. Turning response into dialogue that leads to a sale—faster, more easily

If anything is new about this process it’s the role direct response marketing techniques play. For example, social media copywriting is catching on.

The process today’s best social sellers are using generates leads faster by helping customers:

  • believe there is a better way (via short-form social content)
  • realize they just found part of it (using longer-form content) and
  • act—taking a first step toward what they want (giving you a lead)

Engagement and Trust Are not the Goals
Will you agree with me that engagement is not your sellers’ goal? Engagement is the beginning of a process. It’s a chance for front line reps and dealers to create response—and deeper conversation about a transaction.

If not, engagement is a chronic waste of your reps’ and dealers’ time.

I know “experts” insist that being trusted is a strategy. But it’s not.

It is the output of a successful prospecting strategy!

Increased trust is a sign your sellers are applying the process effectively. It’s not a goal!

As a small B-to-B business owner myself, I know what gets you paid. It’s not engagement. It’s not your image or personal brand.

You or your boss measures performance based on leads.

So let’s keep your social prospecting approach practical: Attention, engagement and a simple, repeatable way to create response more often. These are the components of an effective social selling system.

Why You Don’t Need a Social Selling Strategy

“What’s your social selling strategy?” I hear it all the time.
“You need one,” the experts insist.

But I say no, in most cases. Here’s why: Listen to what the experts say. Pay attention to what they say goes into a social selling strategy. Hint: It’s nothing new!

Yet we keep hearing “experts” claim listening is a new idea—or how we must get trusted to earn the sale.

So I give you permission to fire your social selling consultant or sales person if this is the best they can do.

What’s Your Telephone Strategy?
Not convinced? Consider how we don’t have B-to-B telephone strategies for prospecting. We have systems, approaches to applying the tool effectively. What defines our success in tele-prospecting?

Listening to customers? Nope. That’s the entry fee.

Trust? Nope. That’s the outcome we desire.

Success when dialing-for-dollars is based on if your system works—or not.

“You didn’t need a telephone strategy when the telephone was invented,” says sales productivity coach Philippe le Baron of LB4G Consulting.

“You learned how to use the new tool … to reach out to people you could never have dreamed of reaching … and get a face-to-face meeting with the ones who qualified.”

Today, tele-prospecting success has little to do with phone technology. It has everything to do with your telephone speaking technique—your conversational system.

Just the same, you don’t need a social media strategy today. You need a practical, repeatable process to increase sellers’ effectiveness (productivity) and make their output more predictable … using social media platforms.

Systems work for you. You don’t work for systems!

So don’t let gurus trick you into feeling like a laggard. Don’t let me catch you throwing money at sales trainers claiming buyers are fundamentally revolutionizing the way they buy. Focus on ways to:

  1. Get buyers to respond and qualify faster, more often, and
  2. Turn response into dialogue that leads to a sale—faster, more easily

Good luck. Let me know how I can help!

1-Click Emails Make Sales and Donations Easy

Attention spans are getting shorter every day. Emails have nano-seconds to capture the recipients’ attention long enough to get them opened. Once open, the offer has to be compelling to move people into the buying process. Every click along the way provides an opportunity to abandon the process. Providing one-click links shortens the path from email receipt to order completion reducing opportunities for people to become distracted or change their mind.

When it comes to service, people prefer easy to exceptional. They want to complete their transactions and resolve any issues in the most efficient manner possible. According to a study by the “Harvard Business Review” and Corporate Executive Board, 57 percent of the people who called customer care departments tried to resolve their issues online before making the call. Customers who reported ease in making transactions were four times more likely to be loyal. This is good information for the service team, but how could it apply to the email marketing strategy?

Attention spans are getting shorter every day. Emails have nano-seconds to capture the recipients’ attention long enough to get them opened. Once open, the offer has to be compelling to move people into the buying process. Every click along the way provides an opportunity to abandon the process. Providing one-click links shortens the path from email receipt to order completion reducing opportunities for people to become distracted or change their mind.

The first image in the media player at right is an example of a one-click fundraising email for a political candidate. It began with a salutation followed by a short story and call to action. The email provides five suggested amounts and the option to donate another amount. A click sends the donor to a confirmation page (the second image) to confirm the donation or choose a different amount.

Amazon offers a similar process with their wish list click, which you can see in the third image in the media player. Instead of an option for the one-click buy, the recipient can add the item to a personal wish list. This is the next best thing to a buy because it provides additional information so the recipient can be better targeted for future promotions. The email is crafted to be personal and well-targeted. A brief look at the anatomy reveals:

  1. The recommendations are chosen specifically for the recipient. Having my name in the first line shows that it isn’t a phishing email.
  2. Personalizing the message increases responsiveness. The letter begins by asking if I am looking for something in the fountains department. I chuckled when I read it because they know for a fact that I was looking for an automatic watering bowl. Two weeks earlier I spent an hour searching their site for one.
  3. Clicking on the “Learn More” button opens the item page so you can review it in more depth. Interestingly, the first item presented in the email is the one where I spent the most time in my search.
  4. The “Wish List” button opens a confirmation page (the fourth image) to verify that you want the item added to your wish list.
  5. The item title is clickable. It opens the same page as the “Learn More” button.

The Amazon email provides multiple ways to enter the buying process. Adding a “1-Click” option to buy would make it even easier to complete the transaction.

Making things easier for your customers or donors may improve their responsiveness. Here are some tips for testing it:

  • Count the number of clicks required from the initial click-through link to completion of order. Redefine the path to eliminate any extraneous steps. (This should be done for every email.)
  • Provide enough details in the email for recipients to make a decision.
  • Follow Amazon’s lead and offer multiple options so people are choosing between more information and buy now instead of buy now or not at all.
  • When reviewing results pay close attention to where people are abandoning the buying process. Test different options to find the best ones for moving them forward.
  • Always provide a custom confirmation page.

Stephanie Miller’s Engagement Matters: Email Storytelling Sells

Combat the fatigue from crowded inboxes by embracing the role of storyteller. Telling a story, rather than just announcing a fact or blasting out an announcement, is a more engaging way to share information. The storytelling approach weaves a relationship through a cadence of touchpoints. Any nurturing or loyalty program is built on the same concept, and many B-to-B marketers are very good at telling stories to move prospects through a buying process.

Gone are the days of the passive email subscriber. Consumers and business professionals tire easily when publishers and marketers broadcast to them. It’s the online equivalent of shouting. Your customers and readers want meaningful conversations — and they know they have other options if you don’t deliver.

Combat the fatigue from crowded inboxes by embracing the role of storyteller. Telling a story, rather than just announcing a fact or blasting out an announcement, is a more engaging way to share information. The storytelling approach weaves a relationship through a cadence of touchpoints. This isn’t complex. Any nurturing or loyalty program is built on the same concept, and many B-to-B marketers are very good at telling stories to move prospects through a buying process.

It’s simply a series of stories about use cases, cool new features and real-life implementation of your editorial, products and services. So invite your subscribers to the proverbial campfire and build their anticipation with a question, “How can I help you today?” Email marketing is great for providing the answer.

Invite subscribers on a story journey
Instead of sending a generic newsletter or “special offers,” invite website visitors to accept a two to five message email series on a particular topic. Make it about how your products, services or content will help them: “Five ways to be beautiful this summer,” “Three strategies for impressing your boss,” “Doctor’s advice on buying contact lenses online,” “Ten things your CEO wants you to know,” “Five great summer games for kids under 10.”

Make it easy to sign up by putting invitations in prominent locations on pages that have related content. And be sure permission is clear. If the offer is just for two to five email messages over the same number of weeks or days, then say so. You’ll likely find a higher sign-up rate and higher response and engagement because the content is so targeted. If you’re also signing them up for your ongoing e-newsletter, be clear about that. There’s no reason you can’t encourage a further subscription after you’ve delivered the series, too. Earn their trust first, then sell. Consider the following strategies:

  • Make your story interactive.
  • Tap the socially connected nature of today’s digital experience.
  • Integrate opportunities for subscribers to share with their social networks or forward to others.
  • Invite subscribers to take a poll or survey or give you feedback.
  • Offer a page where subscribers can upload their own stories or photos, and then share that user-generated content back to the group in your series.
  • Ensure your customer service team monitors these pages so that you can quickly respond to any questions or direct prospects to your sales team or e-commerce site.

Why does it work? An email series strategy is based on a fundamental truth of marketing: Provide something of value and customers will continue to engage. A series makes it easy for you to customize messages to the interests of subscribers at that moment. The topic is top of mind for them, and that creates selling and relationship opportunities for you.

Another benefit is that when your email messages are more relevant, you won’t have as many people clicking the “Report Spam” button, which registers as a complaint at internet service providers like Yahoo or Gmail. Even a small number of complaints can result in a poor sender reputation and a block on all your messages. Make even some of your messages more relevant, and the response rates for all your messages will go up and complaints will go down.

For content, consider the following four options:

1. Make it easy to learn more. Offer website visitors a two- to three-part email series rather than a whitepaper. Most downloaded content never actually gets opened or read. Once a whitepaper is downloaded and saved, it’s out of mind. An email series forces marketers to package up content in bite-sized pieces (you can always link to more detail on your website), and gives them several opportunities over a few weeks to engage. Advertising CPMs for these targeted messages can be at a premium, as well.

2. Comparison shopping. Advertisers know that readers are researching and want publishers to help them shorten sales cycles. Use a series of email messages to help subscribers compare competitive sets — the more honest/nonadvertorial you are, the longer they stay on your site! — find testimonials and bloggers, and make a strong business case.

3. Move free-trial subscribers to paid circulation. A series can give prospects confidence in your content or technology. Help them actually use your service during the trial — help them find the best reviews or product feature comparisons, or let them download tools that help them forecast productivity, revenue or cost savings as a result of making a decision to buy. Test if increasing incentives as prospects move through the cycle helps or hurts your conversion (and margin).

4. Educate. Send one great idea each week, and include ways to practice or implement. The next week, ask for input or a story about how that idea worked or didn’t work. Then, the next day, send the next idea. This interactive cadence will build value for subscribers and let them engage repeatedly over time.

Storytelling lets you retain control over the content while giving subscribers the freedom, choice and interactivity they crave. Successful email marketing is built on a very simple concept: Give subscribers what they want, and they’ll give you what you want. Subscribers want you to help them. When you do, they’ll reward you with higher response and sales, positive buzz and sharing, and stronger brand loyalty.

Let me know what you think by sharing any ideas or comments below.